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Ministry of the Attorney General

Part 5: Filing Documents

A Guide to Procedures in Family Court

Ministry of the Attorney General

April 2012, Revised September 2019

This guide does not provide legal advice. It is recommended that all parties seek legal advice where possible.

Inside this guide

  1. Information Before You Start Your Family Case
  2. Starting a Family Case
    • General Application
    • Simple Application (divorce only)
    • Joint Application
  3. Answers
  4. Financial Disclosure
  5. Filing Documents
  6. Serving Documents
  7. Required Steps
    • Mandatory Information Program
    • First Appearance
    • Conferences
  8. Motions
  9. Trial
  10. Motions to Change a Final Order or Written Agreement

Ce guide est également disponible en français.

ISBN 978-1-4435-3510-6 (Print)

ISBN 978-1-4435-3511-3 (PDF)

Filing a document means that you give staff at the court a document (usually the original).

Generally, when filing documents in a family court case, you need to:

  1. Choose the right court.
  2. Find out if you have to pay court fees to file your documents.
  3. Start or update the Continuing Record in your case.
  4. File your documents.

Choose the Right Court

If you are starting a new family court case, please see A Guide to Procedures in Family Court, Part 1: Information Before You Start Your Family Case about how to choose the right municipality and court for your case. There are rules about where you can start your court case.

If you are a respondent who has been served with an application, file your responding documents at the court location written on the documents you were served with.

If you are involved in an ongoing case, file your documents at the same court you previously filed or appeared at.

Court Filing Fees

There is no fee to file any documents at the Ontario Court of Justice.

There may be a fee to file documents at the Superior Court of Justice or the Family Court Branch of the Superior Court of Justice. For example:

If you can’t afford to pay your court filing fees, you can apply to have your fees waived by completing and filing a fee waiver request form. The court will look at your financial situation and decide whether you’re eligible. If you’re eligible for a fee waiver, you won’t have to pay most fees. You will be given a certificate which you must show to court staff when you go to file a document with the court.

Learn more about fee waivers.

The Continuing Record

Most documents that you file in your case must be included in a Continuing Record, which is kept in your court file at the courthouse. Usually, you and every other party share one Continuing Record for the case.

Parties are responsible for creating and updating the Continuing Record in their case. The Continuing Record is created so you, the other party, and the judge can find your documents easily when they are needed during your court case.

A Continuing Record usually has two parts, called volumes:

  1. The Endorsement volume, which must have a yellow cover page, includes:
    • A Table of Contents, which lists all the documents in your case that have been filed with the court. You must update the table of contents every time you file a document with the court.
    • Any endorsements or orders that the judge makes in your case. An endorsement is written direction from a judge that says what you must do or not do. It is usually handwritten and put in your court file.
  2. The Documents volume, which must have a red cover page, includes most documents filed in your case, such as applications, answers, financial statements, motions, affidavits, and trial management conference briefs.

Rule 9 of the Family Law Rules and the Formal Requirements of the Continuing Record under the Family Law Rules tell you how to create and update your Continuing Record.

Creating the Continuing Record

The person who starts a family court case (the applicant) is responsible for creating the Continuing Record for the case.

If you have a lawyer, they will create the Continuing Record for you. If you do not have a lawyer, court staff can give you the documents you need to create a Continuing Record, or you can find them online.

After you create the Continuing Record:

If somebody else filed the application or motion, you add your documents to the Continuing Record that they already created for the case.

Updating the Continuing Record

You and the other party update the Continuing Record by filing documents at the court after serving a copy of the documents on each other.

Generally, when you file a document with the court:

Court staff can help you figure out where each document goes in the Continuing Record.

Checking the Continuing Record

If you need to check something in the Continuing Record, you can go to the courthouse where the record is located and ask the clerk to see your court file.

However, it is best to make sure you keep a copy of every document you and the other party in your case files with the court. This allows you to keep track of your case yourself, without going to the court every time you need to check your records.

Exception for Documents Filed Electronically

The Continuing Record rules are different if you file a divorce application electronically using the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Family Claims Online filing service.

Generally, divorce applications filed electronically do not need a Continuing Record, unless you are required or intend to give documents to the court in paper format; in these circumstances, the Continuing Record rules apply to you as if you were the party who started the case (unless the court orders otherwise).

See Rule 36 of the Family Law Rules for more information about the Continuing Record requirements for documents filed online.